Sirenki, Scones, Biscuits and Sourdough Rolls

I was recently reading an food article in The Guardian newspaper with David Atherton’s recipe for Sweet Potato Sirenki (25 November 2020). The title caught my eye simply because 1) I had leftover sweet potatoes and 2) I had never heard of sirenki. I had to look the word up. This proved a bit difficult since neither my dictionary nor Google had heard of it (the latter kept redirecting me to Atherton’s recipe and a number of unreadable sites in Cyrillic script). It definitely was not an English word.

Well, The Guardian article describes it (for its British readers) as a kind of Bulgarian scone. Given that description (+ the Cyrillic sites), I suspect it is just that – what Americans would call ‘biscuit’ or a baking powder leavened bun. Now, there are numerous recipes out there (mostly post-Thanksgiving) on sweet potato ‘biscuits’ for using up leftover sweet potato mash. And, who doesn’t love a recipe for using up leftovers? One of my most cherished food books is Food From Plenty by Diana Henry which stresses the use of leftovers. The book is the subject of one of my past blog posts, Delicious Small Remains or what the French call les delicieux petites restes.

These particular leftovers got me thinking about how I could use some of my own leftover sweet potatoes by making sourdough sweet potato rolls, much like the potato/chestnut rolls I made a few years ago. Finding uses for leftovers can often lead you down the rabbit hole of creating thinking – this time from an article on sweet potato sirenki to scones to biscuits to sweet potato sourdough rolls.

Sweet Potato Sourdough Rolls
This uses some of the flavouring ingredients in Atherton’s sirenki recipe – paprika and cheese. I have, however, substituted his feta for another salty cheese – Parmesan or the Metsovo ‘Parmesan’ I brought back from that cheese producing town in Epirus, a hard and salty grating cheese commonly used in Greece. Both of these ingredients provide a savoury balance to the sweet potato.

  • 225g sourdough starter (freshly fed, 100% hydration)
  • 225g sweet potato mash
  • 1 tea sweet paprika
  • 50g grated Parmesan
  • 475g flour
  • 5g salt
  • 85g melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 50-60g warm water

Measure out your sourdough starter and place it into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, paprika, cheese and salt to the sourdough starter. In a separate bowl, mix the sweet potato mash, melted butter, water and eggs until they form a smooth wet mixture. Add this to the flour and sourdough starter, Stir until the dough becomes sticky and the flour is incorporated. The dough will begin to separate from the side of the bowl when stirred. Add more flour if the mixture is too soft or more warm water if it is too dry.

Take the dough out and place it on a floured surface. Stretch and fold, adding more flour if necessary, turning the dough as you do this. Proceed until the dough is no longer sticky and has a slight bounce. The dough will be soft and have a nice orange colour.

Place the dough ball in a clean oiled bowl, turning so that the oil covers the surface. Cover the bowl with clingfilm (or a re-usable shower cap). Put in a warm place for several hours until it has risen twice the size.

Gently remove the risen dough and cut into 16 equal pieces, gently shaping them into rolls. Place these on a baking tray that has been lined with greaseproof paper. Space the rolls slightly apart. Cover and let this rise again in a warm place for 1/2 to 1 hour.

Bake at 170 degrees C for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool. 

They can be frozen once cooled. The rolls are soft and good served with soups. They might also make rather nice little sandwich buns.

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